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Fruits Basket

From Academic Kids

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Fruits_Basket_manga.jpg
Fruits Basket manga, volume 1 (English version)

Fruits Basket (フルーツバスケット) is a shōjo manga series created by Natsuki Takaya (pseudonym, real name unknown) serialized in the bi-weekly Japanese Hana to Yume (Flowers and Dreams) magazine, which is published by Hakusensha. Fruits Basket is also a 26-episode anime series, adapted from the manga by Akitaro Daichi (director).

Often abbreviated as Furuba, from the Japanese pronunciation of "Fruits Basket": "Furutsu Basuketto". The title is always spelled in the plural.

Contents

Story

Fruits Basket follows the life of high school student Tohru Honda, recently orphaned when her mother is killed in a car crash. When we first meet her she has had to temporarily leave her Grandfather's house and, unwilling to impose on her friends, is living in a tent in the woods. Despite suffering many hardships, Honda remains cheerful and optimistic.

One day Tohru comes upon a house in the woods which is the home of some young men from the Sohma family, including Yuki Sohma, a worshiped but aloof boy from her school. Feeling sorry for her, and desperate to end their take-out eating habits and pig sty living, the Sohma's offer her their spare room in exchange for cooking and housework. When her tent is buried in a landslide, she has no option but to accept.

Tohru soon discovers the Sohma family's secret, and the reason why Yuki is so private: many members of the family are possessed by animal spirits from the Chinese zodiac ("Jyūnishi" in Japanese), and transform into that animal when hugged by a member of the opposite gender or when their bodies are weak.(Compare Ranma 1/2) When she promises to keep their secret, the Sohmas allow Tohru to keep her memories rather than hypnotically erasing them, a fate that has previously befallen all who have found them out.

The story follows the lives of Tohru and the Sohma family, as they deal with each other and a society where neither quite fit in.

Characters

Names are in Western order, with the surname after the given name.

  • Tohru Honda (本田 透 Honda Tōru) - An orphaned high school student, Tohru ends up sharing house with Shigure, Yuki and Kyo. She loves to cook, is an excellent housekeeper and has an after school job as a cleaner to help pay her tuition fees (since she doesn't want to be a burden on her grandfather). She's always polite, and is extremely kind and selfless; in fact, the other characters sometimes have to tell her that she needs to look out for her own interests.
  • Arisa Uotani (魚谷 ありさ Uotani Arisa), "Uo-chan" - Uo-chan is a former gang member and has been one of Tohru's closest friends since Tohru's mother helped her escape from the gang. Uo-chan is tough, brash, sometimes violent, wears long skirts, carries a lead pipe, and often speaks like a guy. Uo likes to play cards, protect Tohru from Yuki's fangirls, annoy Kyo, and swim.
  • Saki Hanajima (花島 咲 Hanajima Saki), "Hana-chan" - Hana-chan is a goth psychic ("denpa" in Japanese), and has the ability to sense people's auras and send out electric waves. Like Uo-chan, she is extremely protective of Tohru, the one person who has truly accepted her. She is very observant, polite and loves to eat sweets.
  • Akito Sohma (草摩 慊人 Sōma Akito) - Akito is the head of the Sohma clan. He is very frail, and his health is poor. He has a definite mean streak and has physically and emotionally scarred many members of the Sohma family, but his rule in the Sohma clan is absolute, and none dare oppose him. While he isn't cursed by any of the vengeful spirits (mononoke) of the Zodiac, many fans think he might play the role of the Jade Emperor (God) from the stories about the origins of the Chinese Zodiac. A possible part of his curse was that he would only live to be 25 years old. In volume 15 of the manga, Akito's gender was revealed as female.
  • Yuki Sohma (草摩 由希 Sōma Yuki) - Yuki is the Rat of the zodiac. Known as "The Prince" at school, Yuki is very pretty and refined, and has many admirers at school, but has a hard time being social; he wishes that he could be with people as friends, rather than admired and worshiped from afar. With Tohru's help, Yuki is able to slowly loosen up. Generally quiet and polite, Yuki is an amazing martial artist who enjoys gardening. Yuki's fangirls really hate it when Yuki gets closer to Tohru, and use harassment to try to drive her away. They say they are trying to "protect" Yuki from Tohru.
  • Kyo Sohma (草摩 夾 Sōma Kyō) - Kyo is the Cat, an animal not in the zodiac, but which legend says would have been were it not tricked by the rat into missing the induction feast. Kyo despises Yuki and has dedicated his entire life to someday defeating him, for if he defeats Yuki, he'll officially be accepted along with the other Jyuunishi by the Sohmas. However, in spite of the fact that Kyo spends more time practicing martial arts and that Kyo's adopted father is a martial arts instructor, Kyo has never managed to even land a decent blow on Yuki. Kyo runs away even from the people that want to help him, because he is ashamed that he turns into a hideous monster when his bracelet is removed. He puts on a tough-guy mask to impress the world, but really he's just someone that wants to be accepted.
  • Shigure Sohma (草摩 紫呉 Sōma Shigure) - Shigure is the dog of the zodiac and the owner of the house where he, Tohru, Yuki and Kyo live. He is a writer who writes both academic books and romance novels. He loves to drink tea, eat takoyaki (a Japanese snack made of octopus), drive his publisher crazy, sleep in late, and smoke cigarettes. In the anime, he is a harmless, lecherous jokester. In the manga there is a darker side to him.
  • Kagura Sohma (草摩 楽羅 Sōma Kagura) - Kagura is the boar of the zodiac. She has been dedicated in her love for Kyo since they were young, and is convinced she will marry him, mainly because she threatened him into proposing to her. Despite this love, she often loses her head and beats him senseless when he does something to anger her. As one of the three female members of the zodiac, she is able to hug any of the male members and neither she nor they transform.
  • Kisa Sohma (草摩杞紗 Sōma Kisa) - Kisa is the Tiger of the zodiac. She is very shy and withdrawn, largely because her classmates harass and ostracize her due to her naturally orange hair (a side effect of her curse). Tohru helps her to come out of her shell, and she develops quite an attachment to Tohru, calling her "big sister" ("oneechan").
  • Hiro Sohma (草摩燈路 Sōma Hiro) - Hiro, the Sheep of the zodiac, is a snotty, smart-mouthed brat. He is in love with Kisa, and resents Tohru because she monopolizes Kisa's time and attention. He starts out being hostile to Tohru, but eventually eases his initial attitude through a combination of grudging admiration for Tohru and Kisa telling him to let up. He is sarcastic and pessimistic.
  • Hatori Sohma (草摩はとり Sōma Hatori) - The Dragon of the Zodiac and the private doctor to the Sohma clan, Hatori is a very serious and humorless type. It is his job to erase the memories of those who discover the Sohma clan secret, though it's not entirely clear if this is simply a form of hypnosis, or more of a supernatural power. When his curse activates, he turns into a seahorse rather than a giant fire-breathing lizard, because the Chinese consider the seahorse to be baby dragons.
  • Ayame Sohma (草摩綾女 Sōma Ayame) - The Snake of the zodiac, and big brother to Yuki, Ayame is vivacious, garrulous, and has a knack for making Yuki and Kyo angry. He runs a business that makes women's clothing for men, and he often wears women's clothing himself.
  • Hatsuharu Sohma (草摩溌春 Sōma Hatsuharu), "Haru" - The Ox of the Zodiac, Haru has something of a Jekyll and Hyde personality related to the Ox's personality. He is usually calm and placid (White Haru), like the Ox is usually calm and placid, but can be goaded into "stampeding", where he's edgy and mean (Black Haru); White Haru usually doesn't remember what Black Haru did. Additionally, Haru has a rather bad sense of direction, but not nearly as bad as that of Ryoga Hibiki of Ranma 1/2.
  • Momiji Sohma (草摩 紅葉 Sōma Momiji) - A painfully adorable androgyous teenager with a depressing family life. His endless enthusiasm and cuteness often annoys Kyo. He is older than he looks, much to Tohru's surprise. Momiji is the Rabbit of the Zodiac.
  • Ritsu Sohma (草摩利津 Sōma Ritsu) - The Monkey of the zodiac, Ritsu has very low self-esteem and is often seen apologizing for everything. He takes after his mom, the hostess of the hot spring that the Sohma's own. He dresses like a female because he doesn't feel comfortable in men's clothes, and is often mistaken as a woman because of his long hair. Ritsu often blames things on himself that have nothing to do with him, and occasionally becomes suicidal.
  • Isuzu Sohma (草摩依鈴 Sōma Isuzu), "Rin" - Isuzu is the Horse of the Chinese Zodiac (Jyuunishi). She is often called Rin by a few members of the family because 'suzu' translates to 'small bell' in Japanese, and 'Rin' is the sound a small bell makes. Apprarently, she and Hatsuharu used to have a relationship together, until Akito found out about it and hurt Rin severely, causing her to be admitted to the hospital for some time. Hatsuharu visited her while she was in the hospital, but Rin broke up with Haru, not giving a reason why. Rin's character is cold and angst-ridden. She thinks of Tohru Honda as an annoyance to the Sohmas, but eventually warms up to her little by little because of the kindness Tohru gives in return. She only appears in the manga, not the anime.
  • Kureno Sohma - The Rooster of the Jyuunishi. He does not like others to see his animal form. He has somehow lost the curse of the Jyuunishi. He was Akito's constant companion after Yuki, and first went to a convenience store at the age of 26. Arisa has developed a crush on him, but he stays away from her because he feels it is better if he does not love her back. He only appears in the manga.

About the name

The phrase "fruits basket" means simply a basket of fruit in Japan. In Japan, where arable land is in short supply and fresh food very expensive, a basket of fresh fruit is a costly and desirable item. It is written in Japanese as フルーツバスケット, fu-ru-u-tsu ba-su-ke-t-to, where the "tsu" sound means we end up with the plural S on "Fruits".

The series is named after the childrens' game, Fruits Basket. Everyone sits in a circle, and the leader of the game names each person after a fruit; when the name of a child's fruit is called, that child gets up and swaps positions with others with the same name. When Tohru first played this game in kindergarten, she was assigned "Onigiri" (rice ball), which was fine with her, since she thinks onigiri are delicious. However, as everyone but her got called, and she was the only one left sitting, she realized that an onigiri isn't a fruit, and that she'd never be called; she was purposefully excluded from the game, just another of the mean tricks that other kids used to pull on her. She realizes that an onigiri can never belong in a Fruits Basket.

During the course of the story, lines spoken by members of the Sohma clan are often illustrated by a SD head of the corresponding animal: for example, when Yuki speaks from off-screen a small mouse head might appear, and when Kyo snaps a reply there might be an angry cat face. Uotani and Hanajima's SD heads are based off their names and are a fish and a flower, respectively. As the series goes on, Tohru's comments are illustrated in the same way with an animated onigiri: illustrating that although Tohru might have been rejected by classmates at school, she has found a place she can belong with the Sohmas.

The manga

As at the time of writing, Fruits Basket is still being serialized in Hana to Yume, and 15 collected volumes each containing 6 chapters have been released. In 2003, the manga was licensed for United States distribution by TOKYOPOP after it topped a poll of requested manga on their website. The first translated volume was released in February, 2004. In Singapore, an English translation is made by Chuang Yi, and the Singaporean translation is imported to Australia by Madman Entertainment. Meanwhile, in Europe, the French translation of all volumes up to the ninth was available in June, 2004.

The anime

The Fruits Basket anime is a 26-episode series adapted by Akitaro Daichi. It aired on TV channel TV Tokyo from July 5 to December 27, 2001, at 18:00 on Thursdays.

The anime series closely follows the manga up to approximately the end of volume 8 of the collections.

Production staff

Seiyu (voice actors)

In North America, FUNimation has released the Fruits Basket anime on DVD in R1, comprising four volumes. The anime is produced in English in Singapore by Odex.

A note on Romanization

The name spellings used here are only one possible romanization, and have been chosen to correspond as much as possible to the officially licensed R1 DVD names. Names are given in Western order, with the family name last. The romanization style according to the Manual of Style is given in parenthenses to the right of the official romanization in Japanese order, with the family name before the given name.

External links

fr:Fruits Basket ja:フルーツバスケット (漫画) nl:Fruits Basket zh:幻影天使

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